Govt expects to run budget surplus next year

2023-11-02 02:53     BY Tony Wong    Comment:0

The government has submitted its 2024 budget bill to the Legislative Assembly (AL), according to which it expects to run a budget surplus “again”.

The bill was yesterday released on the website of the legislature, which has scheduled the debate and vote of its outline to be held during a plenary session on Tuesday next week.

After the passage of its outline by lawmakers, the bill will be reviewed by one of the legislature’s standing committees before it is resubmitted to another plenary session for its second and final debate and vote.

Because of the severely adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local economy, the government recorded a budget deficit for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022. Macau confirmed its first COVID-19 case on January 22, 2020.

When the government presented its 2023 budget bill to the legislature in November last year, it expected a budget deficit of 35.6 billion patacas for this year. The local government discontinued its long-running dynamic zero-COVID approach in early December last year. The 2023 budget bill was passed by lawmakers in its second and final reading later that month. Macau’s economy began to recover early this year mainly driven by the rapid recovery of visitor numbers and the steady recovery of its gross gaming revenue (GGR).

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng told lawmakers in August that this year’s deficit would be smaller than the initially-projected level thanks to the GGR recovery. He expected this year’s GGR to reach between 170 billion and 180 billion patacas.

Govt expects budget surplus of 1.17 billion patacas in 2024

According to the 2024 budget bill’s explanatory note, which was also released on the legislature’s website yesterday, the government expects next year’s GGR to reach 216 billion patacas, because of which its direct gaming tax revenue is expected to amount to 75.6 billion patacas, i.e., 35 percent of the GGR.

Macau’s gaming operators pay 35 percent of their gross gaming receipts as direct tax to the government.

According to the 2024 budget bill, the government expects its revenues to reach 107.11 billion patacas next year, while its expenditure next year is expected to amount to 105.94 billion patacas.

Consequently, according to the bill, the government expects to have a budget surplus of 1.17 billion patacas next year.

The bill’s explanatory note says that the government is expected to record a budget surplus “again” next year.

The 2024 budget bill released yesterday is in contrast to Ho’s less optimistic remarks in August when he said he expected the government to still run a small budget deficit next year.

The explanatory note says that Macau’s economic recovery is expected to continue next year. However, the note says, the uncertainty in the global economy may adversely affect Macau’s ongoing economic recovery. The note underlines the need for the government to continue with its financial prudence next year, according to which public entities will continue to restrict their expenses used for civil servants’ administrative work while the government’s spending on its various welfare measures for residents will remain unchanged.

Moreover, according to the note, the government proposes to continue with its annual cash handout next year.

The amount of this year’s cash handout stood at 10,000 patacas for each permanent resident and 6,000 patacas for each non-permanent resident.

The 2024 budget bill’s explanatory note does not mention how much each local resident will receive for next year’s “wealth-sharing” handout.

In addition, the 2024 budget bill proposes to raise public servants’ salaries from 91 patacas to 94 patacas per salary point, an increase of 3.3 percent, effective from January 1 next year. 

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